Alternative image management and editing apps have been drawing more attention than ever before, following the photo community’s backlash against Adobe splitting Lightroom into two versions and shoehorning customers into its ‘perpetual rental’ plans.
Lightroom now exists as ‘Classic’, the traditional version, and ‘CC’, a new and simplified, entirely cloud-based version that runs quicker.
The ProCounter Reader’s Poll, which asks: ‘Have the latest Adobe updates persuaded you to look at other image editing software providers?’, has, as of writing, 100 percent of readers responding ‘yes’. In six years running Readers Polls in PhotoCounter and ProCounter, we have never seen a 100 percent result for any response. (We’ll need more participants before we can call it a valid sample, though – please provide a response on the homepage!)
Professional photographers are fed up with Adobe not listening or caring about their demands. Shareholders, however, love the big increases in revenue, profit margins and share price year on year delivered by those customers.
Adobe has been criticised for once again increasing the cost of using its software, by introducing mandatory cloud storage through Lightroom CC – a service many customers don’t require. Customers will be charged an additional fee – a total of $28.99 per month, or double the cost – to bump cloud storage from 20GB to 1TB.
Along with constantly increasing its prices, customers are also wary they may be locked in, as library management will be done on the cloud and it will take considerable effort to export.
Additionally, the new software is stripped back, or ‘dumbed down’, missing crucial image management features.
After lashing Adobe for its latest moves on Lightroom, respected professional photography website, Imaging Resource, has begun promoting the virtues of other image editing software solutions.
Other photo media, such as DPReview, have also become noticeably more interested in other image editing/management options. This is backed up by numerous comment sections indicating photographers en masse are now ready to look elsewhere.
With so many promising Adobe competitors openly marketing software as viable alternatives to Lightroom or Photoshop, ‘now’ may be the time that serious competition disrupts the incumbent’s near-monopoly.
Imaging Resource review editor, Jeremy Gray, has recently covered Skylum (Macphun) Luminar 2018, writing it’s ‘taking on Adobe with new software’; Serif Affinity Photo 1.6 – ‘Photoshop competitor gets even better’; and Alien Skin Exposure X3 – ‘look out Lightroom’.
Alien Skin Exposure X3, an image management and editing program, was given an in-depth review by Gray, who directly compared it with the features and functions found in Lightroom.
Alien Skin Exposure X3‘Capable of being used as standalone software or as a plug-in within Lightroom and Photoshop, Alien Skin’s Exposure X3 is a one-time purchase software which offers users power, versatility and flexibility all within an intuitive and unified workspace,’ Gray writes for Imaging Resource.
Exposure X3 can be used as a Lightroom Classic and Photoshop plug-in. As a catalog free, non-destructive RAW file editor, users can edit layers, retouch images, add presets and filters, send and retrieve files to an external editor, and import/export files.
Among many new features, Exposure X3 has improved image management by adding a Folders and Collections panel for allocation images destinations in a hard drive or on a cloud service; Keywords for organising images; and side-by-side image comparison for selection and culling.
Gray describes Exposure X3 as a ‘viable Lightroom competitor with good organizational tools and a strong suite of editing functions’.
Exposure X3 is available for a 30-day free trial, and can be purchased for US$149 (or US$99 as an upgrade) or in a bundle for US$199 which includes additional features, plug-ins, and tech support.
Gray flagged plans to publish similar reviews on Luminar 2018, and DxOmark PhotoLab.
Luminar 2018 is an all-in-one RAW processor which features non-destructive editing, image presets and filters, stackable layers with masking, noise reduction, and more.
The software has a new RAW engine which can open files 200 percent quicker than the previous version, Skylum claims, along with improved colour handling and faster noise reduction.
It also has a Digital Asset Management platform, a must-have for professionals, and a particular strength of Lightroom.
Third party plug-ins designed for Photoshop or Lightroom can run in Luminar.
Skylum, formerly known as Macphun until it started developing software for both Mac and Windows, has designed Luminar to be user-friendly, with one-click presets and filters.
‘We’ve taken the time to listen to photographers, and what they want is performance and quality. The less time photographers have to spend in front of computers, the more they have for taking pictures,’ said Skylum CEO Alex Tsepko. ‘Our mission is to get Luminar streamlined with just the tools and controls photographers need. The goal is simple: enable the best-looking images with the least amount of effort.’
It’s available for pre-order for $84.
Affinity Photo 1.6 update
This Photoshop competitor has been given a performance boost, along with features such as a light UI mode, and brush stabilisation. Serif is calling it a major update, which is available for a one-off purchase of $79.99.
Of course, there’s plenty other Adobe competitors out there, such as On1 Photo Raw, Phase One Capture One, DxO Photolab, Corel Paintshop and Aftershot Pro, GIMP, and others.